Orange-White: A Microcosm Of Spring

Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy was the most open of all the Division I college football coaches in Oklahoma this spring. Bob Stoops had all of the OU practices and scrimmages closed in Norman until fans had the chance to put down a 10 spot to see their beloved Sooners in the Red-White Game.

Meanwhile, up in Tulsa Todd Graham closed all practices until Saturday evening's Blue-Gold contest.

Gundy opened up one-third of his practices this spring including the entire first week, and Saturday night's Orange-White game was free to the 12,000 (listed attendance) that came out to Boone Pickens Stadium. For those that missed any of the earlier open practices, Saturday night was enough because before the storms moved in they saw a microcosm of what happened throughout the previous 14 practices of the spring.

Most important to Gundy, they saw the camraderie, the team chemistry that has been jelling better than Dr. Scholls throughout the spring. Seniors like quarterback Zac Robinson, offensive tackle Russell Okung, linebacker Andre Sexton, defensive tackle Derek Burton, cornerback Perrish Cox, and others have pushed teammates and exerted their positive will at practice and off the field.

The team chemistry that got so much credit in last season's 9-4 campaign is back and stronger than ever. The good work ethic is a part of it. This team is showing that they don't mind busting their butts to get where they want to go.

Gundy has mentioned how happy he is to see that several times, and it was something he brought up after the game as one of the key accomplishments this spring.

The Orange team, behind young Travis Miller and veteran Keith Toston, rushed for 161 yards including a 10-yard touchdown run by Toston and a 26-yard run that helped set up that score. Kye Staley and Beau Johnson did not have as big a numbers but they ran the football well for the White squad. Staley, who was an emerging performer in the spring, also caught three passes for 32 yards.

This was the spring of young receivers with Dez Bryant sitting out the practices. While emerging star Justin Blackmon only caught two passes for 9 yards, Hubert Anyiam had six receptions for 106 yards. DeMarcus Conner, known for his blocking, caught a 25-yard touchdown pass off the rocket arm of backup quarterback Brandon Weeden. The two had hooked up on a very similar play for a touchdown earlier in the spring in the second scrimmage. Keeping with the theme young Justin Horton, 6-4, 245, and with 4.55 speed, caught three balls for 55 yards including a spectacular touchdown on a halfback pass from Toston.

Zac Robinson was good before he got out of there after a few series. Brandon Weeden seemed to play just a little better than Alex Cate and that seemed to be the way it went throughout the spring according to Gundy. Weeden was 15 of 25 for 102 yards and a touchdown. Cate was 10 of 19 for 87 yards and he threw an interception.

The Orange won 20-15, but that didn't matter so much. On defense, the players were more aggressive and there were seven sacks. That is over half the number (13) of sacks by the Cowboys all of last season.

Jeremiah Price had two and he was joined by Derek Burton, Ugo Chinasa, Swanson Miller, and Nigel Nicholas on the defensive line. Nicholas is a great example of how things are developing. He came in last season as a defensive end, but Nigel Nicholas has grown and his 6-3, 285-pound frame looks good and he looked good with a sack, two tackles for a loss, and 6 tackles overall.

Again, that was a mini-version of what was seen in all previous 14 practices. New defensive coordinator Bill Young and the defensive staff have really pulled the right strings this spring to get the defense going and believing in what they are doing.

Maybe open practices are overrated. If your team will be consistent then all you need to see is one. The one on Saturday night was nice and as fans filed out just before Mother Nature cut loose with a monster thunderstorm they had to be feeling good about 2009 and the next time they come to Boone Pickens Stadium on Sept. 5 when Georgia comes to town. At that time we'll hope for another microcosm.

GoPokes Top Stories